Day three of my 4th of July rove – and the 4th of July itself – led me to Prairie Dog State Park, an interesting park that’s named after the creatures that inhabit the area. After arriving, I headed to the Prairie Dog Town, a field in the park that has tons of prairie dog holes spread all around starting only a few feet from the parking lot. This was the first time I’d every seen a prairie dog, and I was surprised to hear the chirping sound they make. Unfortunately I only had my iPhone camera and couldn’t get too close before they ran into their holes to hide, so the photos I grabbed weren’t too great. There was a nice pavilion overlooking Prairie Dog Town, which ended up being my operating location for my POTA activation. I had some time to kill before the first satellite pass, though, so I headed over to the nearby nature trail to walk around for a half hour or so and enjoy the beautiful day.
This operating position was not only neat from a nature perspective, but it also provided a nice horizon all around me. After spending some time enjoying the park, I was eager to make my contacts fairly quickly so I could run over to the real event of the day, the DN90/EN00 grid line not far away. Since there were several other rovers out this weekend (and especially this day being Saturday and the 4th of July), I didn’t want to spend to hog the FM satellites, so I planned to focus on CAS-4B and use the FM satellites as backup. I sent out a tweet asking for others to work me on the CAS-4B pass to help get me to my ten contacts quickly, with the implication that it would benefit them by getting me to the grid line faster as well. I was shocked to find how many came to work me on CAS-4B, and I was very appreciative of that! My breakdown was:
- CAS-4B 1634z (fixed RX 145.930 MHz): 14 (!) QSOs
- AO-92 1700z: 6 QSOs
- AO-91 1709z: 2 QSOs (but both were actually dupes from the previous pass, so neither counted)
Although a long drive from Kansas City, I think I might come back to Prairie Dog State Park. It’s close to the EM09/DM99 gridline and Nebraska border, so there are many opportunities nearby to give out some grids. It had plenty of good campsites as well.
I quickly loaded up the car after the AO-91 pass and headed into the nearby town of Norton to grab some lunch. I then traveled north into Nebraska before turning off on a gravel road toward the DN90/EN00 grid line. I was pleasantly surprised a mostly-flat area away from any busy roads or homes that I could pull over on the side of the road. I realized I had gotten there only a few minutes before an AO-91 and AO-92 pass, so I quickly put my gear back together to get on those. I then planned passes on SO-50, PO-101, and RS-44 over the next few hours. It was another hot day, so I spent much of the in-between time in the car with the AC running transcribing passes.
I had a car pass by soon after I arrived, and about an hour later, it came back the other way. This time they stopped, and the couple in the car asked what I was up to. I explained the grid line, ham radio, satellites, and we chatted a bit about my contacts of the day. They wished me good luck and were on their way after a couple minutes. After hearing about some police-related interactions on back country roving, I was happy to have this good interaction with the locals!
In the end, I made 49 QSOs from the grid line on the following passes:
- 1830z AO-92: 12 QSOs
- 1845z AO-91: 11 QSOs
- 1921z SO-50: 8 QSOs
- 2055z PO-101: 7 QSOs
- 2131z RS-44 (fixed TX 145.990 MHz): 11 QSOs
Although the XW train was coming up a little later, I was already exhausted and had another few hours drive that day to make it to my hotel in Hays, Kansas, so I left it there. I was happy to hand out the grid line to many people and cap off a fun yet tiring rove spanning a few days. The rest of the trip was uneventful as I made it into Hays with enough time to get dinner, relax a bit, and see a ton of fireworks from my hotel window. I awoke early the next morning to make the four hour drive back home. I considered stopping at one more park that morning on the way back, but I was too eager to throw myself on the couch and unwind. I’ll definitely be back out that way though, as several more parks are in that area as I work to activate them all!